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Airbus to offer nap areas in its planes’ cargo hold

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Airbus is designing sleeping berths for its A330 planes, and it says airlines will be able to retrofit old A330s with the modules.
(Fabrice Coffrini / AFP/Getty Images)

It won’t be a room with a view, but it may help prevent neck strain. Passengers flying on Airbus SE planes soon will be able to slip down into the cargo hold for a proper nap.

The European jetmaker is working with seat manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace on the design and construction of lie-flat beds to fit in lower-deck cargo areas. The berths initially will be offered on Airbus A330 widebody aircraft from 2020, the companies said Tuesday at a conference in Hamburg, Germany.

The idea for specially designated sleeping areas on planes also was raised last month by Qantas Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Alan Joyce, who said his airline is studying options for making ultra-long-haul flights more bearable for passengers. Qantas is exploring direct links from Australia to the United States and Europe that would require travelers to spend as many as 17 consecutive hours in flight. Joyce said the airline could introduce a new four-class structure, with part of the cargo hold used for beds.

Under Airbus’ plan, the sleeping berths would be installed as modules that could be quickly replaced with regular cargo fittings during an aircraft’s typical airport turnaround. Holds have, in the past, been designed as cabin crew rest areas and for religious facilities.

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Airlines will be able to retrofit old planes with the modules or build them into aircraft coming off the production line, according to the manufacturer. Airbus also is studying the possibility of offering similar sleeper compartments on its A350 airliner.


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